In Search of Civil War History in North Carolina

Plantation House
Somerset Place, Creswell, North Carolina

In early June 2021, my husband Michael and I went on vacation to North Carolina in search of Civil War historical sites. Our first stop was Bennett Place in Durham, North Carolina. Bennett Place State Historic Site was the site of the largest surrender during the Civil War. The surrender took place April 17th through April 26th, 1865, between Generals Johnston and Sherman. In the middle of surrender negotiations, the Generals learned of John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Lincoln on April 26th  which complicated the terms of the surrender.

Politicians criticized Sherman in Washington, D.C. for being too generous with the terms of surrender to Johnston’s Confederate troops. Sherman and Johnston became close friends after the war. General Johnston was present at General Sherman’s funeral and refused to wear a hat despite the bad weather. As a result, Johnston caught pneumonia and died not long after. Johnston is buried in Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore, MD.

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Bennett Place, North Carolina


Somerset Place-146

Our second confederate history stop in North Carolina was Bentonville Battlefield, in Four Oaks, N.C. The Battle of Bentonville occurred from March 19th to 21st, 1865. It was the largest battle fought in North Carolina. At this site is a monument marking a mass grave of unknown Confederate soldiers. There is also a visitor center, a self-driving tour of the battlefield, and a tour of Harper House that was used as a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops during the battle.

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Bennett Place, North Carolina-23

The third stop on our confederate history trip was to Somerset Place, in Creswell, N.C. Somerset was an active plantation from 1785 to 1865. It was one of the largest plantations in the area. Now owned by the state of North Carolina, visitors can tour the main house, enslaved buildings, and the grounds. The visitors center provides a historical timeline profiling the members of the landowners and several of the enslaved persons.

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